The imposition of and length of parole supervision is crime and fact specific. The conditions of supervision imposed are driven by the crime and the facts of the individual parolee. There may come a time when parolees believe that they have done everything asked of them, they are not a danger to anyone, they will not commit another crime, and have earned the right to return to society without the burden of parole conditions and supervision. There are mechanisms to seek relief and be discharged from parole.
Discharge from Parole when There is a Maximum Term Date
There is a way to get discharged from parole prior to the maximum term date. A Parole Board Panel has the authority and may grant a complete discharge before the expiration of the “max” date under the New Jersey Administrative Code:
(a) The appropriate Board panel may grant any parolee a complete discharge from parole prior to the expiration of the maximum term for which he or she was sentenced, provided that:
- Such parolee has made a satisfactory adjustment while on parole; and
- Continued supervision is not required;
- The parolee has made full payment of any fine or restitution and the parolee has made full payment or, in good faith, established a satisfactory payment schedule for any assessment, penalty, or lab fee; or
- In the opinion of the Board panel, continued supervision is not warranted or appropriate based upon a review of the facts and circumstances.
Discharge from Parole when There is a Life Sentence
When the sentence is a “Life Sentence” and the parolee is a “Lifer”, or the crime involves violence or serious sex offenses or absconding, there are different standards with different minimum requirements that must be established:
b) The Board panel will consider requests for discharge after the following periods of parole supervision have been completed:
- In the case of parolees serving life sentences, after a period of seven years; provided the parolee has been under advanced supervision status for the final two years.
- Except as provided at (b)1 above, in the case of adult parolees serving sentences for murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault (including attempts), robbery first degree, arson, aggravated assault second degree, and sale or distribution or sale of controlled dangerous substances and possession of controlled dangerous substances with intent to distribute, after a period of two years, provided the parolee is under advanced supervision status.
- In the case of county parole absconders, after a period of two years from the expiration date of the original maximum sentence, provided the parolee has no known arrests.
- In the case of young adult parole absconders, after a period of three years from the date the parolee became an absconder; provided the parolee has no known arrests and provided the original maximum sentence has expired.
- In the case of adult parole absconders, after a period of 10 years from the date the parolee became an absconder or after a period of five years from the expiration of the original maximum sentence, provided the parolee has no known arrests.
- In all other cases, after a period of one year.
Discharge from Parole When the Trial Court has Imposed a Special Sentence of Parole Supervision for Life
When the parolee received a Special Sentence of Parole Supervision for Life by Superior Court Judge at the time of sentence, there are an entirely separate set of conditions that must be satisfied before a discharge may be granted. When a Judge has imposed a sentence that includes a Special Sentence of Parole Supervision for Life, a petition for discharge must be filed with the court and the parolee must not have committed a crime for 15 years from the last conviction or release from jail. When the trial court has imposed a Special Sentence of Parole Supervision for Life, the burden is on the parolee to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he does not pose a threat to the safety of others if discharged from parole supervision. Once imposed as part of the sentence, obtaining relief from a sentence to Parole Supervision for Life may only be granted by an application to the court.
Making an application for discharge from parole is not simple or easy. A parolee should not try to make the application without the advice of counsel. Any parolee seeking an early termination from parole supervision should consult with an experienced attorney who can assess: the relevant statutes, the relevant New Jersey Administrative Code provisions, the crime, the sentence, the length of time spent under supervision, the maximum date or parole “life” status, the parolee’s performance on supervision, and the supporting documentation necessary to support an application or petition for discharge from parole.
N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.66, Discharge from parole prior to maximum term
N.J.A.C. 10A:71-6.9 Discharge from parole
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4, Special Sentence of Parole Supervision for Life
New Jersey State Parole Board, Adult Parole Handbook, rev. July 1, 2019 (caveat: “This handbook is not the law and should not be cited to as legal authority”)
Eric Marcy, Esq. is Of Counsel at Lyons & Associates, P.C., with Offices in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold. His practice areas include criminal, civil rights, professional licensing, health care, and administrative law.
Mr. Marcy has represented clients in parole planning, administrative appeals from parole denial, appeals to the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, and parole revocation hearings.
Mr. Marcy has been a member of the New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers since 1987. He served as a Trustee of the NJ-ACDL from 2001 to 2010.
Mr. Marcy served as an instructor for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education Criminal Practice “Skills and Methods” program for newly admitted attorneys from 2000 to 2009.
Mr. Marcy has been selected for inclusion in New Jersey Super Lawyers® lists 2006-2009, 2017 to the present. Super Lawyers is not approved by the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the selection process may be reviewed online. He is also an authorized attorney under the New Jersey State PBA Legal Protection Plan, representing law enforcement officers in administrative, civil, and criminal matters.